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Meet Amy Gallup of Birthright America

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Gallup.

Amy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
About a decade ago, when my children were six and eleven, my family and I embarked on a journey to see the “amber waves of grain” and to truly experience our country. We have created many lifelong memories along the way, but I was perhaps most surprised by our nation’s National Parks. Their bounty and diverse beauty astound me. As we traveled, I became more and more aware how important it is for all of the country’s youth to be able to fully experience America.

Birthright America was established to provide an opportunity for those children who financially wouldn’t be able to visit some of our country’s great National Parks to have that chance. Every child – both those born in America and those DREAMERS for whom America has always been their home – should have the same opportunity my children have had – to see and feel what we have experienced while traveling through our beautiful country.

Genesis (https://birthrightamerica.org/about)

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We formed Birthright America in September, just as Hurricane Irma came barreling along. After the initial setback of loss of power and internet for a few weeks, the uphill battle began to gain name recognition, donors, sponsors, and grants. As a new nonprofit, we quickly learned that it is very difficult to gain access to grants until a company has been in existence for two years. Of course, staying in existence for two years without the help of grants is challenging.

Potential sponsors love the concept of our company but wanted to be guaranteed a larger audience than we could promise. Individual donors have been wonderful and what has kept us afloat during these initial growing pains.

Meanwhile, after connecting first with a local group of students in Miami, a change in their leadership structure required us to pivot to working with another group of student across the country. That group, Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, is wonderful, and the trip that took shape because of the shift of location is going to be amazing. Still, trying to pull the inaugural trip together for summer of 2018 after such an unexpected change was extremely challenging.

Those are just a few of the proverbial bumps in the road we’ve encountered in our first six months of existence.

Birthright America – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We are a nonprofit with the mission to insure that all children, regardless of their financial resources, are able to explore America’s National Parks. We believe that having that opportunity is a right every American should be able to enjoy. Too often, unfortunately, these glorious National Parks remain out of reach for families without considerable economic resources.

As a lifelong educator, it was essential to me to create and integrate a curriculum connected to the National Parks as part of the learning experience the students would enjoy. Therefore, once a student’s application is approved, that student joins an online community of learners, where he gains an understanding and appreciation of the parks he and his peers will explore in the coming months. At the end of the program, each student earns a certificate recognizing their participation in the program.

https://birthrightamerica.org/

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Birthright America will have reached its first step towards success when we complete our inaugural trip to Yosemite this August, for that is when our first group of students will have experienced the National Parks.

Ultimately, for Birthright America to be successful, it will need to have generated interest and support by a wide variety of sources – individual donors, sponsors, and grants – enabling it to fulfill its mission with students across the country exploring National Parks both in their own states and throughout America.

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